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How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?

Many dentists recommend regular dental checkups every six months to detect and prevent any issues. Usually, a regular dental check will include an examination and a routine clean. Even if you are taking care of your teeth, brushing and flossing twice daily as the Australian Dental Association recommends, regular checkups are essential.

A patient with chronic dental issues will most likely have a dental treatment plan that includes more regular appointments. Someone recovering from periodontal disease or diabetes may need to be seen by their dentist as often as once every three to four months. Orthodontic patients may also benefit from more frequent dental visits due to the high risk of plaque buildup and enamel demineralisation if their oral hygiene isn’t as thorough as needed. 

When paired with good oral hygiene habits, your regular checkups and cleanings help lower the risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay, intercepting dental health concerns in their earliest stages. For most healthy patients—regardless of their age—experts recommend regularly scheduled dental checkups. However, there are some situations where visits may need to be planned more frequently, depending on your risk factors. 

Why regular visits are important

Dental providers routinely screen for early signs of oral infection, gum disease, and tooth decay during your regular checkup appointments. By seeing a dentist twice a year, your provider can potentially identify teeth concerns before they become major problems. This approach to care also allows treatments to be more conservative and affordable; in some cases, early intervention may even be able to reverse the symptoms before active disease develops. 

While most people associate dental checkups with their teeth, oral health care is also closely related to your systemic wellness and a healthy immune system. Left untreated, aggressive oral diseases such as periodontitis allow bacterial colonies to spread into your cardiovascular system, straining your immune function and increasing inflammation in your body. Researchers have continually linked chronic gum disease with a significantly elevated risk of heart attack, stroke, respiratory infections, erectile dysfunction, pregnancy complications, and diabetes. 

By seeing your dentist for regular checkups, you can increase both your oral and overall health and improve your quality of life.

Who needs to visit the dentist more frequently?

Certain risk factors can predispose a person to an increase in dental concerns, there are some scenarios where it can be helpful to increase the frequency of your dental visits. Some common examples include the following high-risk categories:

Pregnant Women 

For some women, pregnancy hormones may bring additional oral health concerns, such as swollen, tender gums or gums that bleed more easily. Studies suggest that gum disease can increase a woman’s risk of premature labour, pre-eclampsia, and giving birth to a baby with a low birth weight. Sadly, there is also some research showing a higher prevalence of stillbirth in women with chronic periodontal disease. As such, it’s important to address dental concerns and focus on prevention both before and during pregnancy. Schedule an appointment prior to becoming pregnant and then at least once during the pregnancy. Some women may find that it’s more comfortable to wait until their second trimester, as symptoms of nausea have typically subsided, and before their third trimester, when it may be more challenging to lay backwards in the dental chair.

On a related note, women who experience frequent nausea and heartburn during pregnancy are also at a higher risk of acid erosion on their tooth enamel. Talk to your dentist about ways to lower your risk of complications and advice on keeping your smile healthy throughout your pregnancy. 

People with Diabetes 

There is an extremely close link between a person’s blood sugar levels and their periodontal health condition. Simply put, people with aggressive gum disease are more likely to have trouble managing their diabetes and vice versa. Rather than focusing on the treatment of one condition and then the other, the best thing to do is address them at the same time. This holistic approach to care allows for better oral-systemic wellness and improves the outcome for both your oral health and your diabetic condition. When treated jointly, these individuals typically see better results in less time. People who have trouble managing their glucose levels or diabetes should visit their dentist once every three months. 


People who smoke or use tobacco products typically find that common oral health conditions like gum disease are easier to miss. Because smoking decreases blood flow to your gum tissues, conditions like periodontal disease can progress into more aggressive stages of gum and bone loss without them realising it. Even if they do see a dentist for soft tissue treatments, they may not respond as well as someone who does not smoke. Additionally, tobacco and vaping products can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer, which is an extremely dangerous condition that is almost impossible to self-diagnose until it reaches an advanced state of disease.

To reduce the risk of gum disease, tooth loss, and undiagnosed oral cancer, tobacco users should see their dentist at least twice a year for checkups and oral cancer screenings, as well as discuss a tobacco cessation plan. Some dentists even advise smokers to visit the dentist three to four times a year. 

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Active gum disease is a condition where gum tissues pull away from the roots of teeth, exposing infected, bleeding tissues underneath. Periodontal infections can jeopardise your health as the bacteria in these “gum pockets” may dislodge and travel directly into your bloodstream. In turn, this increases your immune system’s inflammatory response can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Periodontal bacteria have been found lodged within cardiovascular tissues, including those supplying the brain as well as inside of the heart. 

Treating gum disease isn’t just important for your smile’s health; your overall wellness also depends on it. When diagnosed with gum disease, dentists recommend six-monthly visits. If the gum disease is advanced, a more regular treatment schedule will be advised. 

Those with Cancer

Some researchers now believe that untreated dental diseases such as tooth decay can also increase a person’s susceptibility to certain types of cancer. Some studies show that people who have progressive periodontal disease are 25-50% more likely to develop cancer compared to people with healthy mouths. Lung cancer is the most common, with colorectal cancer being the next. It’s thought that the enzymes produced in periodontal infections may stimulate the production of cancerous cells, but more research is needed.

When possible, it is advisable to have a dental checkup before cancer treatment as some cancer treatments can cause mouth (oral) side effects. A dentist will be able to create an oral healthcare plan for the treatment period. People who are undergoing cancer treatment are at a higher risk of tooth decay because of issues related to dry mouth and nausea. Because saliva provides an active buffer against bacteria and acids, radiation-induced xerostomia (dry mouth) may lead to more frequent cavities. A dental healthcare plan during cancer treatment may include three-monthly visits in the first year, which include professional cleans and fluoride treatments. If cavities are diagnosed, it is important to treat them early, as dry mouth symptoms can facilitate the rapid spread of tooth decay. 

Dental checkup and clean: what to expect

A typical dental checkup and clean appointment will include a thorough examination by the dentist. They will check for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, occlusal (bite) concerns, TMJ function, and other important facets of your oral health. In most cases, semi-regular X-rays will also be taken to screen for issues that are not visible during your clinical exam. For example, cavities between teeth, bone loss, cysts, or impacted wisdom teeth. 

You will also receive a professional preventative cleaning where buildup and plaque are gently removed from all of the tooth surfaces and gum lines. Afterwards, your teeth are lightly polished to remove surface stains and residual plaque. If needed, your dental provider will discuss oral hygiene tips or modifications to improve or maintain your oral health between checkups. 

If active decay or periodontal disease is diagnosed, your dentist will discuss the best course of care and have you return for treatment.

When to take your baby to the dentist

It is recommended that babies should visit the dentist when their first tooth pushes through or by their first birthday. If your baby has a tongue tie, lip tie, or neonatal (milk) teeth, you can bring them to the dentist when they are as young as a few days old. Most early dental visits are preventative and educational, providing parents and carers with information on how to promote good oral health at a young age, lowering their baby’s risk of dental concerns in the future. However, if there are developmental concerns, your dentist can take steps to address them before further complications arise. 

Although babies may only have a few teeth, their oral health and development can affect their ability to nurse or feed properly, as well as their speech development. These early, routine checkups also help shape the way your child perceives dentists as they get older.

When to take your kids to the dentist

Just like adults, kids should be visiting the dentist every six months. These regular visits are crucial during your child’s formative years. Because their mouths are changing rapidly and oral hygiene habits may fall by the wayside, intermittent exams and cleans allow your dental provider to intercept issues like cavities or gum disease as quickly as possible. In turn, treatments are simpler and easier for your child. Your child will also receive age-appropriate tips and instructions on how to care for their teeth at home between checkups and dietary advice to lower their risk of tooth decay. 

In addition to screening for cavities or getting help with flossing, children’s dental visits also allow for early screening of orthodontic complications (e.g., impacted teeth or atypical jaw growth patterns) and wisdom teeth. 

Regular dental checkups paired with good home care can, in many cases, make it possible to enjoy healthy teeth for a lifetime. For most people, that means booking a scale and cleaning at least twice a year. But if you have a history of gum disease, diabetes, or other risk factors, you may want to consider a checkup as often as once every 3-4 months. When was your last checkup? If you’re past due, contact Hawthorn Road Family Dental today!

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr. Mahima Krongold

Dr Krongold has been practicing dentistry for over twenty years. She has background experience dealing with a diverse range of dental issues, which vary significantly from individual to individual. Her experience has been built upon by her endless thirst for practical and technological advancement in the field of crowns, implants, bridge work, root canals, endodontics, teeth whitening and cosmetic work. Dr Krongold is a family dentist with three children. Children's dentistry is a specialised area for her, particularly encompassing oral hygiene and dental comfort.

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